“Psalms…Songs…Praise”

by David R Moenich

 

© 2018 David R Moenich

 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”          Colossians 3:16

 

The book of “Psalm” is a compilation of songs, hymns, prayers, meditations, and contemplations. The subject matter of these psalms focuses on the importance of the Almighty Creator God, regarding our need of His help within all things concerning our existence, as well as glorifying, praising, and exalting His holiness, absolute control,  righteous motives and actions, as well as His commands concerning us human beings as entities of His creation.

 

The prominent presence of music within the Bible is evidence God deems such appropriate, rather, necessary. Singing praise to God is a form of worshipping Him. Music can also be used as a conduit for furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. Music is capable of motivating, inspiring, soothing, and enlightening listeners. A composition lending itself to negative emotions causing listeners to adopt a sense and feeling of ill will and/or depression, anger, or hatred would render that musical “creation” the antithesis of a psalm.

 

The book, “Psalm”, is comprised of 5 integral sections. Encompassed within that parameter, various types of psalms are exhibited and expressed. Hermeneutics suggests these 5 divisions of “Psalm” reflect upon the first 5 books of the Bible…the 5 books of  Moses…the Pentateuch…Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. A theologian might designate the 5-fold design of the book of Psalm to represent Humanity, Deliverance, Historical, General, and Prophetic.

 

Throughout the text within “Psalm” several varieties of compositions are presented, including those dealing with praise, lamenting, fear, remorse, repentance, as well as hope in God’s loving kindness, mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Human emotions expressed aside, it should remain evident the emphasis of “Psalm” is on Jesus Christ. 

A very clear reference to Jesus Christ is written within the “Psalm” that follows:

 Psalm 22:1 (written by David, king of  Israel)

 “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Why are You so far from helping Me,

And from the words of My groaning?”

 Then, refer to: 

  Matthew 27:46

 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is,

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

 Did David know Whom he was referring to according to what he had written within the 22nd Psalm?

 The book of “Psalm” is a very important and enlightening text, as well as being a true comfort to all relying upon God’s deliverance from times of trouble. Also, musical praise  of God is an integral and enjoyable aspect of our relationship with the Lord.

 Many believers have been motivated and inspired to praise and worship God through the art of music. Songs of worship should be realized as a viable means of worshiping our Lord. It may also be useful and helpful as a means of furthering His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The ministry of music and songs praising Him are expressly encouraged by God.

 The psalms are written in a poetic form know as Parallelism. Both synonymous and antithetic examples of parallelism are utilized. Synonymous parallelism incorporates 2 lines of a particular psalm, each line agreeable to its counterpart’s declaration. Antithetical parallelism consists of 2 disagreeing statements.

 Praising our Creator in song might encompass a vast selection of musical genres from which to choose. These vehicles are almost as endless as is the imagination of those composing and performing such. Individual tastes in music vary as does the style and caliber of musical artists who have composed and/or performed praise songs.

 “Sing unto the LORD with the harp;

  with a harp, and the voice of a psalm.”      Psalm 98:5

 Take into consideration the Hebrew word “sing” isn’t always defined as singing to music or by use of acapella. The word “sing” can also be defined as “shouting joyfully”. Whether the angels truly sang or sing to God seems to be in question. However, scripture makes it clear singing to the Lord is a viable form of worshipping Him, as is prayer, or even audibly rejoicing through shouting because of Him and His holiness, greatness, and goodness.

 The book of Psalm indicates people singing to God using vocals and music is an acceptable form of worshiping God, as well as a direct command of God within the Old Testament. Hence…

 Psalm 33:1-3

 “REJOICE in the LORD, O you righteous!

 For praise from the upright is beautiful.

Praise the LORD with the harp;

Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Sing to Him a new song;

Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”  

 

Psalm 150:1-6 {entire chapter}

 “PRAISE ye the LORD.

  Praise Him in His sanctuary: Praise Him in His mighty firmament of His power.

  Praise Him for His mighty acts: Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

  Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: Praise Him with the psaltery and harp.

  Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.

  Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: Praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.

  Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”

 

Other books of the Bible prove God’s desire for our glorifying and praising Him in musical song…rather than shouting joyously.

Ephesians 5:19

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD;”

 

Nehemiah 12:46

 

“For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.”

 

What type or genre of musical praise and glorification is acceptable to God? There are probably those individuals believing nothing short of classic, old time hymns accompanied by a pipe organ or piano…or a symphony orchestra performing works of the classic era composers, i.e., Bach will suffice.

 

I personally disagree with the aforementioned stance, believing content and intent should be considered above all other prerequisites within qualifying praise music as appropriate to offer up to the Lord.

 

At the time of David, as well as prior to his time, many instruments were available throughout the world. To thoroughly discuss such instruments would require another entire manuscript devoted to such.

 

It seems feasible, rather, likely, if David had access to modern day instruments, i.e., a 12-string acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, or even a moog synthesizer, he might have put such instruments to good use within his songwriting of psalms and songs of praising God.

 

Songs worshipping God cover diverse genres, as well as incorporating differing styles within those genres. Examples include, “Rock My Soul In The Bosom Of Abraham”, an old African American spiritual…a traditional song William Francis Allen documented in 1867.

 

The musical approach of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace”, published in 1779 distinguished this work as a wonderful and well-loved, one-of-a-kind composition. Newton was an English clergyman (Anglican) and an active poet.

 

Classical music composers have also broadened listening and/or singing options of praising the Lord through various musical masterpieces. It’s likely, the most memorable and popular of such compositions is George Frideric Handel’s 1741 oratorio, “Messiah”.

Charles Jennins compiled the text of scriptures included within this composition.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Referring to German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms is quoted as follows: “…the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful  feelings. If I could picture myself writing, or even conceiving, such a piece I am sure that the extreme excitement and emotional tension would have driven me mad.”

 

Living only until age 65, Bach composed numerous sacred, spiritual works for piano and/or orchestra during the baroque era including hymns, arias, recitatives, chorales, and cantatas.

 

 He penned “SDG” at the end of each of his spiritual compositions. SDG signifying “Soli Deo Gloria”, is a Latin term translated into English as “For The Glory Of God Alone”.  Handel is also said to have used the signification, SDG, within his works.

 

A quote of Bach…”The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where this is not observed there will be no music, but only a devilish hubbub.”

 

On a more contemporary note, folk music songwriter/performer, Bob Dylan released 3 spiritual albums…”Slow Train Coming”, “Saved”, and “Shot Of Love” between 1979 and 1981.

 

In 2003 a compilation of Dylan’s spiritual songs was released. This compilation, entitled, “Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan”, was independently produced by Jeffrey Gaskill…a tribute album to Dylan’s spiritual songs, these tracks were performed by various musical artists.

 

Partial lyrics to Dylan’s song, “Gotta Serve Somebody”, are as follows:

 

“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

 Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

 But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”

 

Dylan’s words might sound familiar to you…read this Bible verse…

 

“No man can serve two masters:

 for either he will hate the one, and love the other;

 or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.

 Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”                              Matthew 6:24

 

Note: Mammon is often defined as being a means of acquiring wealth or lustful pleasure in a greedy and sinful manner…or by associating oneself with an entity capable of  providing such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

 

                                                                                                                        

The Book of Psalm is a songbook containing a wealth of precious prose, verse, and lyric.

It seems a good idea to read a psalm or more each day, keeping ourselves in perspective with Almighty God. The interesting content of this book is expansive.

 

The 119th Psalm is divided into 22 sections, each section having a word (and sometimes a symbol) before the text contained in each division. The words in order of first to last: ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, WAW, ZAYIN, HETH, TETH, YOD, KAPH, LAMED, MEM, NUN, SAMEK, AYIN, PE, TSADDE, QOPH, RESH, SHIN, TAU. 

 

Each word represents a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, translated into the English language. Each scripture begins with a word starting with its corresponding alphabetical letter. This style of writing is referred to as acrostic.

 

Psalm, the lengthiest book of the Bible, contains 150 chapters. It is quoted within the New Testament more than any other Old Testament book.

 

An author, remaining anonymous here, reasoned the praising of God using musical instruments is as unnecessary as sacrificing animals to God because Psalm is an Old Testament book of the Bible. Perhaps, that author should recall The Ten Commandments were also given in the Old Testament.

 

If you are uncertain whether God gladly accepts your praise of Him through songs, and singing, and music…pray to Him, and ask Him to tell you what He thinks about such. Then, let the conscience He gives you be your guide.

 

Psalm 100:1-2

 

“MAKE a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing.”

                                                                                                                                                                  SDG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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